Oh, this one I remember. Curly mop of copper hair and eyes that saw so much and could hold you still until everything around you faded. He was an artist, a photographer, a sweet heart. He took pictures of me, all eyelashes and cheekbones; I wrote him poetry. We traded scar stories, cooked together, played like a basket of kittens. He wanted my heart and I showed him what I had, still beating but ragged around the edges where it had torn when I tried to take it back from the last love.
We sat in the kitchen one morning, that last love and I, laughing over coffee. Meanwhile, the photographer squeezed under the bed where it was too dark to see anything, not even a way out. I brought his coffee into the room, surprised he hadn't come into the kitchen for it. A hand sudden around my ankles and I fell, he crawled into me, sobbing and choking while he ate his own heart. You need to be a little braver to love someone than I was then and I felt my ragged heart locking itself away from him.
I saw him years later, and he still looked the same, a little less hair. Softer around the eyes, too, but still able to hold me in place. He'd won awards, toured. I hope somebody loved him really hard. I am sorry I couldn't, but I was so much younger then and even my coffee was weaker.
This is the beginning. Almost anything can happen. This is where you find the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land, the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page. Think of an egg, the letter A, a woman ironing on a bare stage as the heavy curtain rises. This is the very beginning. The first-person narrator introduces himself, tells us about his lineage. The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings. Here the climbers are studying a map or pulling on their long woolen socks. This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn. The profile of an animal is being smeared on the wall of a cave, and you have not yet learned to crawl. This is the opening, the gambit, a pawn moving forward an inch. This is your first night with her, your first night without her. This is the first part where the wheels begin to turn, where the elevator begins its ascent, before the doors lurch apart.
This is the middle. Things have had time to get complicated, messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore. Cities have sprouted up along the rivers teeming with people at cross-purposes - a million schemes, a million wild looks. Disappointment unshoulders his knapsack here and pitches his ragged tent. This is the sticky part where the plot congeals, where the action suddenly reverses or swerves off in an outrageous direction. Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph to why Miriam does not want Edward's child. Someone hides a letter under a pillow. Here the aria rises to a pitch, a song of betrayal, salted with revenge. And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge halfway up the mountain. This is the bridge, the painful modulation. This is the thick of things. So much is crowded into the middle - the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados, Russian uniforms, noisy parties, lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a wall - too much to name, too much to think about.
And this is the end, the car running out of road, the river losing its name in an ocean, the long nose of the photographed horse touching the white electronic line. This is the colophon, the last elephant in the parade, the empty wheelchair, and pigeons floating down in the evening. Here the stage is littered with bodies, the narrator leads the characters to their cells, and the climbers are in their graves. It is me hitting the period and you closing the book. It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen and St. Clement with an anchor around his neck. This is the final bit thinning away to nothing. This is the end, according to Aristotle, what we have all been waiting for, what everything comes down to, the destination we cannot help imagining, a streak of light in the sky, a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.
when you've made a change to your appearance and every time you walk past a mirror you don't recognize yourself for a second, and then eventually it becomes normal, like looking the other way when you cross the street in London or Japan, and then you can't remember the way you looked before.